July 13, 2021 09:43
Coronavirus infections are spreading more quickly outside the locked-down Seoul metropolitan region. The proportion of infections in areas outside of the capital region has risen from 22.1 percent to 27.1 percent over the last weekend.
At this rate, health authorities warned Monday that daily infections could surpass 2,000 by mid-August.
Health officials fear a continued surge as people flee the capital region to spend their summer holidays in other parts of the country where lockdown is less stringent.
"If this situation continues, the total number of cases could rise to 2,331 by mid-August, until they start to drop," the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency warned. But if the toughened lockdown in the Seoul metropolitan region proves effective, the number of daily cases could drop to around 600 by late August, it added.
The Delta variant remains a risk. Delta infections in Seoul increased from 2.1 percent in mid-June to 24.6 percent in the first week of July. The daily tally of new infections stood at 1,150 as of Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, bookings for coronavirus vaccination for people aged 55 to 59 started Monday but had to be stopped after about 15 hours when it emerged that the government had lied about the availability of vaccines.
There were supposed to be enough Moderna vaccines for all 3.52 million people in the age group, but it turned out that the government has only secured half.
A woman who tried to book vaccination online for her parents said, "When I tried to get on to the booking site at 1 a.m., it said there were 180,000 people in the queue ahead of me and I'd have to wait for 3,122 minutes."
More than 800,000 people were still trying to access the site at around 3:30 a.m. and the site was paralyzed due to heavy traffic.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the late afternoon admitted it suspended bookings because "the doses for 1.85 million people that are scheduled to be delivered here are all booked." It did not say what happened to the rest of the promised vaccines.
The government had promised to take bookings until July 17 and those eligible would be vaccinated between July 26 and Aug. 7. On Monday it was still claiming that additional reservations for those who lost out this time will be taken from July 19.
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